CHINA> Regional
Campus club gets failing grade from critics
By Lan Tian (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-10-23 07:40

A new club in a university town that critics say caters to the rich, talented, pretty and powerful is getting a failing grade from many observers.

The private club in Wenzhou, Zhejiang province, is open to people who run their own business, those with wealth, political pedigrees and leaders of college student unions and winners of campus singing or modeling contests.

"What a pathetic world we are living in!" said a netizen slugged Zhanzai Jiaoluo. "People advocated the spirit of Lei Feng (a national role model known for offering unselfish help to strangers) in the past, but now they worship the crazy material life of the rich second generation."

Another netizen named Langzi Huitou agreed: "Apparently, only rich people are qualified. The poor will not have a hope of joining this club."

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The KLSI Private Club was launched by college students belonging to the "rich second generation", according to a netizen tagged as satan126, who posted comments on Tuesday on www.mop.com, one of China's biggest interactive entertainment portals.

The netizen also shared several photos apparently used in the club's advertising.

Members reportedly will go to regular parties attended by the political and business elite and see shows, drink free red wine, tea, coffee and have snacks. The club also helps members book airline tickets and restaurant seats.

Zeng Qingjie, KLSI club's planning director, took issue with the online criticism, but did confirm the club's membership requirements.

"The club has opened for only a week. It does not only serve the 'rich second generation'. The members we recruit are mainly college students who want to run their own business," he said.

He added that the club's principal investor was Bai Bingwei, a senior student at Wenzhou University who started his own video game company from scratch.

Bai does not belong to the "rich second generation", Zeng said. Both Bai's parents were teachers.

"The club does not run for a profit but as a platform for college students who want to start businesses," Zeng said. "Here, they can exchange ideas and meet business elites who might help them."

About 100 students have applied for membership so far - among are more than 70 students who are the heads of student organizations. More than a dozen would-be members are students who want to start businesses and about a dozen are rich students whose parents are entrepreneurs, he said.

The club covers nearly 300 sq m of floor space in suburban Wenzhou, which is known for its rich entrepreneurial culture.

More than 60,000 students from Wenzhou University, Wenzhou Vocational and Technical College and Wenzhou Medical College live in the town.

The "rich second generation" has been a hot topic this year.

In August, the authorities in Jiangsu province sponsored a training program for the children of local entrepreneurs that set out to train successors for businesses. The program aroused nationwide controversy because it was seen as favoring the rich and widening the income gap.

Most of the so-called rich second generation was born after the 1980s and around half studied abroad, said China Youth Daily on Monday, quoting the country's first survey report on the "rich second generation".

The survey was conducted among some 130 youths belonging to the "rich second generation". The investigation was undertaken by two NGOs - the Shanghai Youth Homeland and Relay China Youth Elite Association.

Seventeen percent of respondents had a master's degree or better and 78 percent had a bachelor's degree. More than half of those taking part in the survey had started their own businesses and most had assumed important positions in companies, the survey showed.

More than half spent 5,000 to 10,000 yuan each month.